Have a spare $200,000 and a need to leave this planet? SpaceX founder Elon Musk says he has you covered. Today Musk revealed his grand plan for establishing a colony on Mars — using the spaceship it'll go there in.
That's right, if this plan works, it will be cheaper to move to Mars than buy a house in Sydney. What a time to be alive.
At the International Astronautical Congress meeting, Musk said he saw two paths for humanity. "One path is to stay on Earth forever, and there will be some extinction event. The alternative is to become a multi-planetary species, which I hope you will agree is the right way to go."
As reported earlier, the video above gives us a good outline of how Musk's plan will work.
The rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral's Launchpad 39a with 13031 tonnes of thrust behind it. After stage separation, the spaceships parks in orbit while the booster returns to Earth — where it lands. A propellant tanker is loaded onto the booster to refuel the spaceship in orbit for its trip to Mars. The tanker returns to Earth and the spaceships heads for Mars. The solar arrays deploy and the ships coasts out on its to finally enter Mars’ orbit. The ship lands on the Martian surface and then we get a glimpse of the astronauts looking out onto the Martian plains.
Then the colonising begins. The plan involves 1,000 ships, with 200 people per ship. Musk says it would take 40 to 100 years for a "self-sustaining city" to establish itself on Mars. So when can we book a flight and exit this Earth? 2023. Maybe. Musk floated the date, but didn't make any promises.
According to Musk, it would normally cost $10 billion per person to get to Mars. He's gotten the price down to $200,000 (Musk aims to eventually get that down further to $100,000) by making meeting four key criteria: reusable spacecraft, re-fueling in orbit, producing propellant on Mars and choosing the right fuel. That fuel? Methane, which is readily available on Mars.
Musk says being on the spaceship itself will be "like, really fun to go — you'll have a great time." The plan is to make the 80 day (and eventually as little as 30 day) trip as comfortable as possible.
But when you get there, how will you... well, live? There wasn't a whole lot of detail revealed, other than the concept of the spaceship being re-used for building materials — including who would build and maintain the colony. "The goal of SpaceX is really to build the transport system," Musk reiterated.
Funding for the project was also discussed at length, which Musk admitted would be "a challenge".
"I know there's a lot of people in the private sector interested in funding a trip to Mars," he said, "hopefully there will be interest in the government side as well."
So after Mars, what's next? "If we have a propellant depot, you can go from Mars to Jupiter, no problem," Musk said. "It means full access to the entire greater solar system."
You can watch the full presentation here (Musk takes the stage at 21:55)